“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” ~ Matthew HenryOur small committee was meeting at a local coffee shop after a morning of work in one of our local parks. Deep in discussion on our on-going plan for the native plants we were to put in around the park's entrance, we got on the subject of how small the new plants would be, where we thought they should go, and how long it would take for them to reach maturity.
One man, a dynamo of energy and action remarked: "Can't we put in larger plants? I'm not getting any younger and I'd like to see the results of all this work sooner rather than later!" I tried to explain that this was a long-term project and that probably most of us doing this work would not live long enough to see the final results, but that the next generation definitely would. It was not the response he wanted to hear...
Patience may be a virtue, but it is something that many of us struggle with. Whether stuck in traffic, standing behind a fellow shopper who can't seem to find the right change, trying to get a word in with an acquaintance who talks on and on, or attempting to hurry a child who insists on dallying, we can feel the impatient sensations building - anger, irritation, blaming, shaming.
There is a discomfort and tensing in our stomach as we feel that things are just not going our way.
More often than not, our answer to this discomfort is to try to change the other person, situation or thing that we think is causing it. But the problem is, it really is not the outside thing that's causing our discomfort, but how our mind perceives it. It is a problem within ourselves and therefore, the solution is an inside job.
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them– every day begin the task anew.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
We each have different amounts of patience at different times and under differing circumstances. Some of us, perhaps, are just born with less or more of it than others.
Patience takes practice, and we can develop more of it if we really want to. First of all, we need to become more aware and learn to pay attention to when we are not patient.
Then, odd as it may seem, we need to practice being kind to ourselves for not being "perfect" already.
Finally - and this is the tough one - we need to recognize and work on changing our automatic judgmental, critical thoughts and feelings. This is crucial, because simply changing the way we view any situation makes all the difference.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4